Soprano Donna Bennett and pianist/composer Brian Finley (please see Artists Bios) returned from Europe where they were pursuing their musical careers to Donna’s hometown of Campbellford, Ontario to start a family.
The idea for a permanent venue for a musical festival evolved after performing and hosting events at local venues. They also began teaching advanced level music students and leading the music program at St. John’s United Church in Campbellford.
The success of Jesus Christ Superstar, a fully-staged community event, galvanized local support for a permanent performance organization. In 1999, The Westben Arts Festival Theatre was formed as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating, enriching and integrating professionals and amateurs in musical projects and educational activities. Run by a Board of Directors, Westben received its charitable status in 2000.
Brian Finley, pianist and composer, is the Artistic and Managing Director as well as one of the founders of the Westben Arts Festival Theatre.
Trained at the University of Toronto, Mr. Finley holds Bachelor's, Masters' and ARCT degrees in Piano Performance with postgraduate studies at Banff Centre, Victoria International Festival and with Maria Curcio in London, England.
He has performed with orchestras including the Dallas Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic, and at the Olympic Music Festival in Washington, The Wigmore Hall in London, England and the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. Recordings include a collection of solo piano music from Wigmore Hall, in addition to many for the CBC and CFMX, and three critically acclaimed CD's with soprano Donna Bennett.
His compositions have been published by Boosey & Hawkes and range from solo piano music to songs, choral works and arrangements for full symphony orchestra. Larger projects include Requiem for a Millennium, the opera-musical SAMSON and a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL and the Musical RAPUNZEL and The Selfish Giant co written with Ken Tizzard and THE MAGIC ORNAMENT written with Micahel Nitsch.
Westben presents a wide variety of music from Bach to Broadway favourites, opera, jazz, fiddle, folk and world music! From full symphony orchestra, fully staged operas to solo banjo, flamenco guitar and chamber music.
The main performance venue is The Barn 3 km outside of Campbellford on County Road 30.
Our summer festival runs from early June through to the August long weekend. There are over 40 events and 200 guest artists. In 2014 Westben moved into the new Clock Tower Cultural Centre in Campbellford hosting year round events.
In November and December at The Barn the Westben Youth, Teen and Festival Choruses present seasonal productions such as Christmas in Wales, The Magic Ornament, Westben Christmas Carol, The Little Match Girl Messiah and in 2015 Songs of Merry. These events take place at The Barn and in surrounding communities such as Peterborough, Belleville and Cobourg.
Other events include educational initiatives such as in-school presentations, master classes and the new pre-school programs. Our 45-member Westben Festival Chorus and Westben Youth, Teen and B Natural choruses perform at The Barn and various other venues throughout the year, again with classic and modern repertoire.
For more information on past seasons please see our Vision & History page.
Yes Westben’s main venue is a barn and although we are in the midst of farming country, you won’t see a barn like it.
Westben’s Barn is a purpose-built concert facility designed to optimize sound while allowing patrons to enjoy the natural atmosphere. There are 400 seats.
The Westben Arts Festival Theatre operates a year round box office and administration office at The Clock Tower Cultural Centre, 36 Front Street South, Campbellford, Ontario, K0L 1L0. firstname.lastname@example.org 705-653-5508 or toll free 877-883-5777
Our main venue, The Barn, is located on #6698 County Road 30 North, 3 km outside of Campbellford. (See Detailed Map)
For our regular Concerts at The Barn tickets range from $23 to $75 for adults, $15 for students & under 30 and $5 for Youth 18 & under. Meadow Passes our available to most of the concerts (weather dependent, please call ahead). Ask about our Buy More Save More Subscriptions and Seniors Rates. Groups Rates are available for 10 or more.
Westben has events in all four seasons of the year.
Westben's first season opened July 1, 2000.